LAHAINA - The Start Me Up La Dat tangled with a stubborn blue marlin, taking 15-year-old Bryce Collingwood over three hours to land his 379.1-pound fish. He was fishing with Capt. Terry Kellam and deckman Jameson Keiley.
They were heading in at the end of their charter, and were five miles from the harbor in 66 fathoms of water straight outside the Dump, when they had their first bite of the day. The marlin came in and knocked the line down off the long gone rigger, rattling the rod and startling Terry. It missed the lure, then turned around, came back in and swallowed it without hesitation.
The marlin made a half-turn, took off tail-walking away from the boat for 400 yards then went down. Jameson got the lines cleared and Bryce in the chair. Terry was fairly aggressive after the fish with young Bryce in the chair, trying to get him settled down to the fight ahead. "Awesome kid," mentioned Terry. "He did really well."
From left, Jameson Keiley, Capt. Terry Kellam and Bryce Collingwood with their 379.1-pound marlin caught on Start Me Up La Dat. PHOTO BY DONNELL TATE.
The marlin stayed on the surface as Terry chased after it, getting it to double line in about ten minutes. They had the fish to where they could see it swimming away from them. It came up, thrashed around a little bit and then took off on another run of 400 yards.
It popped back up, busting through the water, jumping and tearing up the surface. "It was an awesome show," said Terry. The marlin stayed on the surface, with Terry continuing the chase. They got it back to double line in 20 minutes, where they could just see some color below.
The marlin took off straight down, running off 150 yards before it stopped. It took them another 20 minutes of give-and-take, with the double line off and on the rod tip several times.
Right at two hours into the fight, Terry decided to have Jameson push up the drag over the strike button. They had the fish real close, getting a couple of double line wraps on the spool. The marlin took off again straight down another 200 yards. Jameson backed off the drag, because they had small hooks on the lure and were afraid of either pulling the hook or breaking the 80-test line.
They got the marlin back to double line a fifth time in about 15 minutes. Jameson pushed up the drag past the button once more, putting just enough pressure on the fish to get it to turn toward the boat. Terry shouted, "We finally got the fish turned; it's going in our direction now."
The marlin came up, went under the boat and then quickly cut back and forth across the stern a couple of times. On one of the passes, the double line got caught on the edge of the stern door, chaffing one of the strands, before Jameson could push the line away from the stern. Terry throttled the boat away from the fish.
Jameson backed off the drag as the marlin took off again straightaway for 200 yards. Terry was after it again pretty aggressively. They got it back to double line in 10-12 minutes.
They were coming up on three hours into the fight. Terry said, "We got to get this fish. It's going to start winning at any minute." Jameson pushed up the drag back to the button. The marlin was swimming along the port side of the boat back and forth a couple of times.
Terry told Jameson, "When that leader comes up, you got to grab it." This was Jameson's first marlin, and he was a little hesitant in what to expect. Terry told him, "Don't be afraid. Grab onto the leader and hold on to it with everything you got. I'll be right behind you. The fish is tired."
Jameson leaned way over the corner rail and grabbed the leader. He shouted out, "Whoa, I can't pull it up! The fish won't move." Terry told him, "Pull hard - bring it up."
The marlin started to come up, coming in closer. Jameson moved forward up the rail a little bit, and Terry was right behind him with the fly-gaff. At that moment, the trailing hook broke off just below the barb, with the lure floating along in the water.
The fish was meaner than crap, said Terry. They subdued it a few times until it settled down. They then let it back out on the gaff rope to get it behind the stern so they could get it to the door. The marlin started kicking its tail, trying to swim away. Luckily, Terry had a solid gaff.
With the boat idling ahead, it was actually reviving the fish as it swam along with them. Once they got the boat to neutral, the marlin mellowed out. They got a second gaff into it and subdued it a few more times before pulling it into the boat.
This was the first marlin that Bryce had ever seen and quite an experience for him. A comment was made from the crowd: "It's good to have youth in the chair."